SQUASHED IT: M'boro mum's amazing 60kg loss
JUST over 18 months ago, Karen Staines avoided looking in mirrors and going outside and lived on double-strength indigestion tablets.
Now, after the physical and mental journey of a lifetime, the Maryborough mum is unrecognisable, having dropped more than 60kg.
When the 40-year-old started her journey in July 2017 the scales tipped 138.8kg.
"I would never have seen myself where I am today," she said.
"Now when I look back at my old jeans I say, 'Wow, I can't believe that ever fit me' but I am so very proud that I'm not still back there.
"I've maintained this weight for a few months now."
For Ms Staines, there was no defining moment to spur her to change her lifestyle.
"I had been overweight for a long time," she said.
"Basically my fiance one day said, 'We need to do something'. He lost more than 20kg himself and I was feeling really slow and uncomfortable."
She started cutting down on portion sizes and "making healthier choices".
The "2L bottle of Coke a day" habit she had was thrown out and replaced with water and a half-hour daily walk.
Within a month, Ms Staines noticed her clothes were looser and five months later she had dropped 25kg.
"When I first started out I would walk 2.1km down to the end of the street and back," she said.
"That was a big struggle for me back then but within four months I found I could walk 5km."
After a 25-year hiatus from playing squash as a junior, Ms Staines returned to her beloved sport in the hope a bit of competition would encourage her to shed the remaining kilos.
Choosing to ride her bike to Maryborough Squash and Fitness Centre Bell Hilltop, Ms Staines stepped back on court weighing just over 100kg.
"When I first got back it was harder than I imagined," she said.
"I could only sort of stand there and swing the racket around. I couldn't run at that point, only take a few steps to the side."
But with the support of her partner of nine years, Vincent Bowyer, five-year-old son Luke and the squash team, 10 months in she had lost 50kg.
It was then things stagnated.
"It started to get harder, I wasn't seeing those big numbers coming off any more," Ms Staines said.
"I had come so far I didn't want to go backwards again.
"I think squash has kept me going by wanting to compete with everyone up there and wanting to get quicker and fitter. It's a great game and I encourage everyone to give it a try."
Ms Staines said she also learnt how to love herself.
"I definitely got cravings. I found that you don't always have to be perfect with the weight loss. You can have a bad day or a bad few days and you pick yourself up and keep going," she said.
"You have to appreciate how far along you have come but also have to be consistent with what you are doing.
"My son is five definitely part of the motivation, he has just started prep.
"I'm happier and a lot more confident.
"My top three tips for others hoping to lose weight are just to try and start moving every day or most days.
"Don't give up, just keep going is a big one and people would be surprised about what they can achieve."